Why Christian Wood makes sense for the Los Angeles Lakers

Just after two months of thing to consider, discussions, and history checks, the Los Angeles Lakers lastly came to phrases with absolutely free-agent center Christian Wooden.

In accordance to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Lakers and Wood agreed to a two-yr, $5.7 million veteran minimal contract with the second year as a player possibility. He’ll earn about $2.71 million in 2023-24.

“It’s usually been my dream to be a laker,” the Prolonged Beach front indigenous tweeted.

Wooden brings the Lakers’ roster to 14 players (not counting the three rookies on two-way contracts). They’re going to enter schooling camp with a spot open up for flexibility down the line.

Wood, before long to be 28, averaged 16.6 points (37.6% from 3) and 7.3 rebounds for the Dallas Mavericks final time but was largely relegated to a bench position — which he was not happy about, as evidenced by his statement about signing in Los Angeles.

In the two seasons prior, with the Houston Rockets, Wooden put up 19.1 factors and 9.9 rebounds while shooting 38.4% from 3. Quality production, no doubt.

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He thrives in pick-and-pop eventualities, which must jibe with the playmaking competencies of LeBron James, D’Angelo Russell, Austin Reaves, and Gabe Vincent. In July, Rob Pelinka exposed that Anthony Davis — who completely performed middle in 2022-23 — would like the Lakers to deploy much more two-massive lineups this coming period. Wood’s capacity to stretch the ground will give enough spacing for Ad and LeBron. Wood can assist carry the scoring load on limited-handed nights. The Lakers boast intriguing frontcourt flexibility with Davis, LeBron, Hayes, Rui Hachimura, Jarred Vanderbilt, and Taurean Prince. They’re  expecting to commence the time starting off Advert, LeBron, and Rui (on a new $51 million offer), per The Athletic.

“Dimensionalizing the competencies at [center] would be significant,” Pelinka claimed at Summer season League. “So we really don’t want to sign a person who replicates the competencies that Jaxson Hayes has. So if we can diversify the big placement and have distinct seems to be, that would be great.”

Wooden — coming off a $41 million deal — must be enthusiastic to rebuild his price. Ideally, he’ll become the most current higher-profile participant to alter his perception in the Lakers system (see: Malik Monk, Dennis Schroder, Dwight Howard). The lights are brighter in Los Angeles, and Darvin Ham and LeBron are not messing about. (Russell Westbrook, on the other hand, form of bought into what Ham was advertising but under no circumstances enthusiastically embraced his “realignment“.) As Wood noted in his statement, he created a partnership with Ham in the course of his brief stint in 2018-19 with the Milwaukee Bucks, in which Ham was an assistant mentor.

The Lakers are using a large-upside, calculated chance. Ham’s Lakers have cast a tradition of selflessness and defensive depth. Their improved cohesion, and ramped-up grittiness and defensive execution turned their 2022-23 time all over immediately after the trade deadline. Acquainted faces like Wenyen Gabriel, Tristan Thompson, or JaVale McGee, or a beloved rim-protector like Bismack Biyombo — whom the Lakers thought of — would have been the safer perform.

Alternatively, the Lakers capped off a productive summer by adding the most proficient participant remaining on the market place who brings longstanding defensive and character issues. Wood’s performed on 7 teams in seven many years. The only crew he’s been a part of that finished higher than .500 (those people Bucks) waived him midseason. He is experienced falling-outs in various places. There’s a explanation a participant of his caliber was readily available in September (although element of that was Wooden waiting around to see how the Damian Lillard and James Harden conditions shook out, for each The Athletic).

Wood, with a 7’3 wingspan, is a stable rebounder who can be a good rim protector when he is in the suitable place. But, there are going to be nights when Vanderbilt, Hayes, and/or small-ball lineups make a lot more perception for Ham. How is Wooden likely to respond? (One more concern is Wood/Davis/James lineups, as LeBron struggles to space the ground and hang with athletic 3s at this phase of his occupation.)

The Lakers know all of this. They are betting on their vets, coaches, and culture, as nicely as Wood’s sheer expertise and own incentives to be on his very best actions and give himself around to the workforce. If Wood buys into a 20-ish minute-for each-video game bench part and commits to protection — he will not see the ground if he won’t — then the Lakers legitimately raised their ceiling. If not, Wood could grow to be an unwelcome distraction. Contrary to Westbrook, at least, he’ll be straightforward to element with, if will need be.

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